Northeast Plastics

Introduction to Polycarbonate

The Role of Polycarbonate in Safe Industrial Workspaces

Polycarbonate is a versatile, transparent thermoplastic polymer product that has gained popularity across various industries due to its beneficial properties. Sometimes referred to as Lexan, polycarbonate plastic is comprised of hydrocarbon and carbonate groups; its chemical name is polycarbonate of bisphenol A. 

This strong plastic material provides a high level of optical clarity and light transmission as a result of its transparent properties. In addition to transparency, polycarbonate features high impact and heat resistance, mechanical strength, and electrical resistance. With an elevated glass transition temperature, it retains its physical properties while withstanding high heat conditions. 

Polycarbonate possesses 250 times the impact resistance of glass and 30 times that of acrylic. The combination of its strength against impact and light transmission make it ideal for applications like eyewear, safety gear, greenhouses, and more. Polycarbonate is known for being lightweight, durable, and easy-to-mold without losing optical clarity. 

Applications of Polycarbonate  

 Polycarbonate is suitable for a wide variety of applications due to its advantageous properties such as high impact resistance, optical clarity, light transmission, and excellent mechanical strength. Some of the major applications of this versatile plastic include: 

  • Eyewear Lenses - One of the most common uses of polycarbonate is in eyewear lenses for eyeglasses and sunglasses. The high impact resistance makes polycarbonate well-suited for eyeglass lenses that need to withstand drops and impacts without shattering. Additionally, polycarbonate lenses are lightweight and thin. 
  • Safety Shields and Windows  - Polycarbonate sheets are extremely strong and transparent, making them ideal for applications like safety shields, visors, and windows. Polycarbonate is commonly used for machine guards, riot shields, bullet-resistant glass, and other transparent armor. It provides protection while maintaining visibility. 
  • Electronic Components -The electronics industry utilizes polycarbonate for manufacturing CDs, DVDs, lithium-ion battery compartments, and electrical enclosures. Polycarbonate offers electrical insulation properties in addition to impact resistance and transparency, which is advantageous in electrical applications.  
  • Greenhouses - Polycarbonate is also popularly used in greenhouse construction as glazing material. Polycarbonate sheets let in sunlight to facilitate plant growth, while providing strength, durability and transparency that makes it suitable for greenhouse roofing and walls. The material withstands weathering effects better compared to glass. 
  • Polycarbonate in Eyewear - Polycarbonate is commonly used for eyeglasses and sunglasses lenses due to its lightweight nature and high impact resistance, making it an ideal material for eyewear.  

The impact resistance of polycarbonate makes it a smart choice for lenses that need to withstand drops and impacts. Polycarbonate lenses do not shatter easily, reducing injury risks for eyeglass wearers. This high impact resistance also allows polycarbonate lenses to be thinner and lighter without compromising durability. 

In addition, polycarbonate is naturally lightweight. Polycarbonate lenses can weigh 50% less than plastic and glass lenses. This light weight increases comfort for long-term wearers of eyeglasses and sunglasses. The lightweight lenses also help reduce pressure on nose bridges and ears that heavier lenses may cause. 

With its inherent impact resistance and lightweight properties, polycarbonate is a popular and practical material for manufacturing durable yet comfortable eyeglass and sunglasses lenses. The qualities of polycarbonate offer protection and wearability that makes it well-suited for eyewear applications. 

Polycarbonate Safety Applications 

Polycarbonate is an ideal material for industrial safety applications thanks to its combination of strength, durability, and optical clarity. Because of these attributes, polycarbonate is widely used to manufacture protective visors, face shields, safety goggles, and safety windows.  

Polycarbonate's high impact resistance allows it to withstand flying debris, heat, and hazardous chemicals without cracking or shattering. At the same time, its transparency ensures good visibility for the wearer. This makes polycarbonate a safer alternative to glass which can break on impact and obscure vision. 

Industrial workers use polycarbonate face shields when handling grinding, chiseling, chipping, and cutting operations. The shields guard the face from sharp particles while allowing full visibility of the task at hand. Likewise, polycarbonate goggles offer impact protection while maintaining a clear field of view. 

Safety windows made of polycarbonate sheets are installed in settings like chemical plants, pharmaceutical facilities, and metal foundries. The windows act as barriers between work areas, letting staff observe operations while shielding them from risks. Polycarbonate windows can also segregate machine operators from dangerous equipment. 

Compared to glass, polycarbonate better resists damage from heat and caustic substances. At high temperatures, polycarbonate does not crack or turn brittle. When combined with its transparent properties, this makes polycarbonate the go-to choice for visors and barriers in hot industrial environments. 

Polycarbonate in Electronics 

Polycarbonate is commonly used in various electronic applications and components. One of the most well-known uses is in the manufacturing of optical storage media like CDs and DVDs. The discs are made from polycarbonate because it allows the laser to pass through and read the data encoded on the disc. Polycarbonate is optically clear and has high impact strength, making it an ideal material for discs that need to withstand being constantly spun at high speeds without fracturing.   

Polycarbonate is also widely used for making electrical enclosures and housings. It is a good insulator, which helps prevent short circuits. The impact resistance provides protection for sensitive internal electronics. Polycarbonate enclosures maintain their integrity in extreme temperatures. It can also be easily molded into a variety of shapes and configurations to accommodate different types of electrical and electronic components.

Compared to metals, polycarbonate housings are lightweight while still being durable. Overall, polycarbonate is a versatile material that serves many roles in electronics and electrical systems when high performance plastic is required. 

Polycarbonate Greenhouses 

Polycarbonate sheets are often used in greenhouse construction because of their ability to maximize natural sunlight for plant growth while also withstanding outdoor elements.  

The optical clarity and light transmission properties of polycarbonate are ideal for greenhouses. Polycarbonate sheets allow a high percentage of visible light to pass through, ensuring plants get the sunlight they need for photosynthesis. This light transmission ability makes polycarbonate superior to materials like glass for greenhouse building. 

In addition, polycarbonate offers durability and impact resistance, making it suitable for the variable weather conditions that greenhouses must endure. Polycarbonate withstands extreme temperatures, wind, hail, and snow loads. The material does not corrode or decay. Polycarbonate sheets are lightweight and easy to install as well. 

Overall, the unique combination of transparency and resilience makes polycarbonate an excellent choice for greenhouse construction and plant cultivation. The material allows optimal light conditions for growth while protecting crops from harsh outdoor environments. Polycarbonate offers greenhouse owners performance, durability and safety. 

Polycarbonate in Automotive Industry 

Polycarbonate is widely used in the automotive industry for its durability, optical clarity, and lightweight properties. Two of the most common uses of polycarbonate in automotive manufacturing are: 

  • Headlamp Lenses - Polycarbonate is an ideal material for automotive headlamp lenses. Its high impact resistance allows it to withstand collisions and road debris. Polycarbonate also has excellent optical clarity and light transmission, enabling it to produce a clear and bright beam of light from the headlamps. Compared to glass lenses, polycarbonate headlamp lenses are lighter weight which improves fuel efficiency. They are also less likely to shatter on impact. 
  • Interior Trim - The interiors of automobiles can benefit from polycarbonate parts as well. Molding polycarbonate into custom trim pieces and other interior components creates durable surfaces that hold up over years of use. Polycarbonate trim resists scratches, won't degrade in UV light, and maintains its color stability. It can be crafted into sleek and stylish accents that enhance the car's interior aesthetics. The lightweight nature of polycarbonate also helps reduce overall vehicle weight. 

Polycarbonate Medical Devices 

Polycarbonate has become an indispensable material in the medical industry due to its unique combination of strength, durability, and optical clarity. Medical devices that are designed to save lives every day rely on the properties of polycarbonate. 

One of the most critical uses of polycarbonate in medicine is in **incubators** for newborn infants. Incubators provide a controlled, protective environment for premature babies or infants with medical issues. Polycarbonate offers excellent visibility so medical staff can constantly monitor the infant. It also provides impact-resistance so the incubator remains structurally sound.  

Polycarbonate is also widely used to produce **surgical instruments** and other medical tools. Its high-performance properties allow it to stand up to repeated sterilization and use. Polycarbonate surgical tools include scalpels, forceps, clamps, and retractors. The material does not interfere with visualization or imaging during procedures. Polycarbonate also enables medical device manufacturers to create ergonomic designs to fit comfortably in a surgeon's hand. 

The optical quality and sterilizability of polycarbonate make it an ideal choice for many life-saving medical applications. As medical technologies continue advancing, polycarbonate will likely remain a go-to material to protect patients while enabling medical professionals to provide the best possible care. 

Polycarbonate Consumer Goods 

Polycarbonate is widely used in the manufacturing of various consumer goods due to its durability, impact resistance and optical clarity. Some common applications include: 

Reusable Water Bottles- Reusable water bottles made from polycarbonate are popular choices for consumers. Polycarbonate provides a lightweight yet strong and durable material that can withstand frequent use and cleaning. Unlike plastic water bottles, polycarbonate reusable bottles do not impart flavors to the contained liquids. The clarity of the material also allows users to easily see the contents inside. 

Food Containers - Clear polycarbonate food containers are a common sight in many kitchens. Polycarbonate makes for durable food containers that can withstand heating in microwaves and cleaning in dishwashers. The material does not warp or degrade easily, allowing the containers to last through years of regular use. The transparency of polycarbonate also enables convenient food monitoring without having to open the lid. 

Sports Equipment

Polycarbonate is the material of choice for protective sports eyewear including glasses and visors. Its impact resistance helps protect eyes during intense sports like hockey, baseball and lacrosse. Polycarbonate is also utilized in the production of transparent kayaks and canoe hulls. 

The material contributes strength and durability to the watercrafts while maintaining visibility for paddlers. Other common polycarbonate sports applications include swimming goggles, scuba masks and bicycle helmets. The lightweight nature and durability make polycarbonate an ideal material to enhance sports safety and performance. 

Polycarbonate Construction Materials 

Polycarbonate is widely used in the construction industry for various building components and materials. Its strength, durability, and optical clarity make it well-suited for the unique demands of construction projects. 

  • Roofing - Polycarbonate roofing provides both strength and transparency. Polycarbonate roof panels allow natural light to enter a space while also providing impact resistance. Polycarbonate roofing is a popular choice for sunrooms, pool enclosures, patios, carports, and more. The material is lightweight compared to glass yet far more durable. Polycarbonate roofs stand up well to hail, snow loads, high winds, and other weather extremes. The sheets can be installed as corrugated panels or multi-wall panels. Polycarbonate roofing often comes with UV protection and warranty coverage of up to 20 years. 
  • Skylights - Skylights constructed of polycarbonate are an excellent way to let natural light into a building. Polycarbonate skylights are available as domes, barrel vaults, pyramids, and other shapes. The material's strength makes it possible to create large skylights without interior support beams. Polycarbonate provides better insulation than glass skylights, resulting in energy savings. UV-blocking coatings help prevent fading of interior furnishings. Polycarbonate skylights are an affordable option compared to glass, and the lightweight material simplifies installation. 
  • Wall Panels - Polycarbonate sheets can be installed as exterior wall panels. The panels provide insulation to reduce heating and cooling costs. Polycarbonate wall panels allow light transmission while also blocking UV rays. The panels come in clear and a variety of colored or frosted finishes. Polycarbonate wall panels offer graffiti resistance and let building occupants enjoy natural light. The lightweight panels are easy to work with and install using simple tools. Polycarbonate wall panels deliver an attractive look at a reasonable price point compared to glass walls.